Today is not the actual Wesak holiday, but it is the official Wesak holiday, seeing that Malaysians don’t like to miss a day off from work if possible. Wesak is a Buddhist holiday that celebrates the birth of Gautama Siddhattha, the Buddha. (Actually, according to most Chinese Malaysians and Chinese Singaporeans we’ve spoken to lately, people aren’t sure if this day celebrates Siddhattha’s birth, death, or enlightenment. If nothing else, this is at least some important day. We are pretty sure it’s his birth.)
Wesak has not been particularly notable today, save for the fact that the mall was really busy because no one was working. However, lots of things were closed today, including the Islamic Museum, which we had hoped to tour today. So, we spent today strolling through Chinatown and doing some souvenir shopping. I (TP) had a chance to really practice my bargaining skills while shopping for a knock-off Coach handbag for Betsy. Just as game theory teaches us, there’s no more powerful tool in a bargainer’s arsenal than his ability to convince a seller that he has other options. After I vehemently refused an inappropriate first offer from a vendor and walked away, Betsy thought that we would never get the handbag. Just as JM and I predicted, though, our disgust convinced the seller to yell after us, offering a better price, and so the bargaining continued. We should also note that the ability to bargain in Malay is helpful.
Tonight we went out for grilled fish, lemon chicken, noodles and veggies at Jalan Alor, a neighborhood famous for its Chinese hawker stalls. JM and I will probably never get over how delicious a whole fresh fish, grilled over coconut husks, tastes.